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September, 2019:

Global Climate Strike roundup Sep 2019

ARU Chelmsford reps

On 20 September 2019 UCU staff and members of branches across the Eastern and Home Counties region took part in events as part of the Global Climate Strike. Successful events were held at, amongst other branches, ARU, University of Essex, Cambridge University, and Writtle. Please continue to let us know about any other events.

 

Writtle

UCU strongly supports the efforts of the school strikers and successfully submitted a motion to the TUC conference calling for unions to take action on 20 September. The UCU motion can be found here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/10181/30-minute-solidarity-climate-stoppage

Cambridge support

Jo Grady, the UCU’s general secretary, said:

“This [motion] signifies real support for the efforts of the school strikers and is a chance for workers to show we are behind them.”

More pictures from across UCU can be seen at https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/10289/Climate-shutdown

More information on UCU’s initiatives on climate change can be found here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/environment

University of Essex event

If you are interested in learning more or in getting involved in future activities and events then please get in touch!

Uni and college staff in Cambridge and Essex to support climate change protests on Friday (19 Sep 2019)

Staff across the UK will join students and climate crisis protestors on 20 September as part of the global campaign for climate action.

UCU is encouraging all its members to take part in the global day of action in whatever way they can. Last week the trade union movement officially backed UCU’s call to support Friday’s school strikes and urged workers to join in the action for 30 minutes.

In the Eastern & Home Counties UCU region, staff at Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin and the University of Essex will be holding events to support the action.

UCU has also welcomed UK-wide support including the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leicester, and Capital City College Group for Friday’s action, and have called on other institutions to follow their lead. The union has also written to the national representatives of universities and colleges asking them to allow staff to take part in the action for 30 minutes.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The trade union movement is fully behind the global action against the climate crisis; our planet’s future is at risk and now is the time for bold action. The work done by Greta Thunberg and school students around the world has been inspirational and now it’s time for the rest of us to make our voices heard. We urge universities and colleges to do whatever they can to enable their staff to get involved with Friday’s protests and other action.’

Intl student visa reintroduction (Sep 2019)

UCU responds to international student visa announcement

11 September 2019

The University and College Union (UCU) has today responded to the reintroduction of two year post-study work visas for international students by calling on the government to ensure the UK remains attractive to international talent.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The reintroduction of post-study work visas for international students is long overdue and something that UCU and others across the sector have been calling for for years. Scrapping these visas in 2012 did untold damage to our international reputation and potentially deterred students from coming to study and work in the UK. The government must ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for people from across the globe to study and work, especially given the continuing uncertainty around Brexit.’

 

 

University Strike Ballots to open Monday 9 September

University strike ballots will open on Monday 9 September

6 September 2019

UCU has confirmed that strike ballots will open at UK universities on Monday 9 September in rows over USS pensions and pay, workloads, casualisation and equality.

The union’s higher education committee (HEC) has confirmed the timetable for a ballot of 69 institutions over USS pensions and also for a pay, workloads, casualisation and equality ballot that will run at 147 institutions at the same time.

The ballots will run from Monday 9 September to Wednesday 30 October and HEC will meet to consider the results on Friday 1 November. The ballots will be disaggregated so each institution will be polled separately.

In June the union wrote to the 69 USS institutions warning that if they failed to defend members’ pensions then the union would prepare for an industrial action ballot in September. UCU made clear that it did not expect members to have to face higher contributions or any loss of benefits. The union said if the employers failed to secure those commitments from USS then they should meet additional costs.

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action. UCU members lost 14 days’ pay to defend their pensions and said it was only fair that any cost this time around should be shouldered by the employers.

The union said it rejected the employers’ latest stopgap offer as it failed to avoid the imposition of unfair and unnecessary costs on scheme members. UCU said it wanted to work towards a long-term solution to address fundamental flaws with USS, how it is valued and how it is run.

At a meeting of the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) in August, the universities’ proposals – that will see members pay 9.6% of their salary into their USS pension, compared to 8.8% at present and 8% before the strikes, with further hikes planned from 2021 – were backed by the chair Sir Andrew Cubie.

UCU tabled its own proposals to the JNC setting out why universities should meet any additional costs. The union previously wrote to universities in June and warned that if they did not agree to limit members’ contributions to 8%, or meet the cost of any additional contributions, then they faced the risk of a strike action ballot.

A separate ballot on pay, workloads and equality will also begin on Monday. It will affect the 69 universities being balloted over USS as well as another 78 institutions in the UK (147 in total). The union said universities had done nothing to address the declining value of its members’ pay, which has fallen in real-terms by 21% in the last decade.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘We have been upfront with universities for months about our intention to ballot members over pensions, pay and conditions, so it is incredibly disappointing that they have chosen not to engage properly with us.

‘The ballots start on Monday, but we have no desire to take strike action and the employers still have time to avert a crisis on campus. However, in order to do that they need to start negotiating with us credibly.

‘Aside from some last minute game-playing and misleading statements on pensions, the employers have done nothing to even try and avoid disruption. USS members should not be hit with extra costs  and we want to work towards a long-term solution to address fundamental flaws with USS, how it is valued and how it is run. We don’t want to be running ballots year after year, we want these problems properly sorted.’

* University of Aberdeen

Aberystwyth University

Aston University

Bangor University

University of Bath

Queen’s University of Belfast

Birkbeck, University of London

University of Birmingham

University of Bradford

University of Bristol

Brunel University, London

University of Cambridge

Cardiff University

City, University of London

Courtauld Institute of Art

Cranfield University

University of Dundee

University of Durham

University of East Anglia

University of Edinburgh

University of Essex

University of Exeter

University of Glasgow

Goldsmiths University, London

Heriot-Watt University

University of Hull

Imperial College

Institute of Development Studies

University of Keele

University of Kent

King’s College London

University of Lancaster

University of Leeds

University of Leicester

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

University of Liverpool

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

London School of Economics and Political Science

Loughborough University

University of Manchester

Newcastle University

University of Nottingham

Open University

University of Oxford

Queen Mary University of London

University of Reading

Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Veterinary College

Ruskin College

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

University of Salford

Scottish Association for Marine Science

University of London (Institutes and activities)

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of St Andrews

St George’s University of London

University of Stirling

University of Strathclyde

University of Surrey

University of Sussex

Swansea University

University of Wales Trinity St David’s

University of Ulster

University of Suffolk

The School of Pharmacy and IOE, University College London

University of Wales

University of Warwick

University of York

 

University staff £240,000 worse off in retirement (3 Sep 2019)

University staff balloting for pension strikes £240,000 worse off as costs rise and benefits cut

3 September 2019

University staff balloting for pension strikes £240,000 worse off as costs rise and benefits cut

University staff being balloted for strike action are paying far more for their pension, but will lose tens of thousands of pounds in retirement because of a series of detrimental changes made to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) since 2011, according to new analysis.

According to modelling by First Actuarial, because of the changes to USS, a typical member will pay around £40,000 more in to their pension, but receive almost £200,000 less in retirement leaving them £240,000 worse off in total. That is compared to a hypothetical member who also joined in 2011 on the same conditions, but has not been affected by any of the changes brought in since then.

UCU is balloting over 52,000 USS members in 69 UK universities* for strike action. That ballot opens on Monday 9 September. It will run at the same time a ballot over pay, equality, job security and workloads at 147 UK universities. Both ballots close on Wednesday 30 October.

The analysis looks at how recent changes to the scheme – including increasing contribution levels from 6.35% of salary in 2011 to 9.6% from next month, the closure of the final salary element and a restriction on defined benefits – have affected members’ costs and retirement package.

UCU said that, while the analysis shows that those that earn more will lose more, the impact of increased costs on those on lower wages must not be discounted and warned some members may leave the scheme.

The union said USS members have been frustrated by a lack of progress in the dispute that saw universities brought to standstill last year by unprecedented levels of strike action, staving off plans to abolish the defined benefit element of USS.

Last month universities pushed through plans to make members pay 9.6% of their salary into their USS pension, compared to 8.8% at present. The union previously wrote to universities in June and warned that if they did not agree to limit members’ contributions to 8%, or meet the cost of any additional contributions, then they faced the risk of a strike action ballot.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘This analysis details the substantial losses suffered by USS members in recent years. A typical USS member will be around £240,000 worse off because of the changes made to the scheme since 2011. It is no wonder they have had enough and ballots for strike action open on Monday.

‘The latest round of increased contributions backed by universities represents another pay cut for staff. We are concerned that those on lower pay may well decide they simply cannot afford to pay for a pension any more, putting the future of the scheme at risk.

‘Universities have to recognise the anger and frustration that members feel about the recent changes, how the scheme has been valued and how it has been run. It is not good enough to come back time and again with proposals that force members to pay more for reduced benefits.’

Total loss to members under changes to USS (benefit cuts and contribution increases)

Staff profile Total lost in benefits Extra paid in contributions Loss total
Starts on spine point 37 earning £40,792 and moves up to £48,677 £134,000 £39,300 £173,300
Starts on spine point 37 earning £40,792 and moves up to £59,828 £198,300 £40,900 £239,200
Starts on spine point 37 earning £40,792 and moves up to £110,217 £689,100 £45,300 £734,400
Works 20 hours a week. Earns £11.40 an hour for first three years, £14.90 thereafter £41,800 £16,200 £58,000
Works 30 hours a week. Earns £11.40 an hour for first three years, £14.90 thereafter £60,100 £24,200 £84,300

Assumes all work 30 years paying into USS. Retirement of 27 years. Salary growth of CPI+2%

 

* University of Aberdeen

Aberystwyth University

Aston University

Bangor University

University of Bath

Queen’s University of Belfast

Birkbeck, University of London

University of Birmingham

University of Bradford

University of Bristol

Brunel University, London

University of Cambridge

Cardiff University

City, University of London

Courtauld Institute of Art

Cranfield University

University of Dundee

University of Durham

University of East Anglia

University of Edinburgh

University of Essex

University of Exeter

University of Glasgow

Goldsmiths University, London

Heriot-Watt University

University of Hull

Imperial College

Institute of Development Studies

University of Keele

University of Kent

King’s College London

University of Lancaster

University of Leeds

University of Leicester

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

University of Liverpool

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

London School of Economics and Political Science

Loughborough University

University of Manchester

Newcastle University

University of Nottingham

Open University

University of Oxford

Queen Mary University of London

University of Reading

Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Veterinary College

Ruskin College

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

University of Salford

Scottish Association for Marine Science

University of London (Institutes and activities)

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of St Andrews

St George’s University of London

University of Stirling

University of Strathclyde

University of Surrey

University of Sussex

Swansea University

University of Wales Trinity St David’s

University of Ulster

University of Suffolk

The School of Pharmacy and IOE, University College London

University of Wales

University of Warwick

University of York